Shona Westwood law student

LLB Law - Graduate EntryShona Westwood, UK

Tell us a bit about your background please…
I'm from the East End of Glasgow and have lived here since the age of 11, moving up just before secondary school. My higher results were lower than expected which was disappointing as I wanted to study law but knew with the grades that I had it wouldn't be possible. Instead, I collected all the university prospectuses I could find and scoured them looking for a course that would interest me and would set me up for a job I could do that was related to law. It was doing this that led me to Forensic Biology and it is this that I studied at Edinburgh Napier University, achieving a 2:2.

What inspired you to further your studies?
I never really shook the idea of being a lawyer, it was still something that sat in the back of my mind. When coming to the end of my previous degree I realised that although I enjoyed the course I was doing, the thought of spending my life in a lab didn't fill me with the excitement and anticipation I felt when I thought of being a solicitor or an advocate. This pushed me to pursue my dream and apply to do a law degree. 

Why did you choose to study Law at Strathclyde? 
One big reason was financially, I had received offers from a few different universities but with it being my second degree, I am responsible for covering the fees myself. Without my parents being amazing and allowing me to stay with them I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. This wasn't the only reason though. I did my research on the schools I applied to and then in more detail when I was offered places. Through this I realised that out of the schools that I had been offered a place in, Strathclyde has the best law programme available and quite a few of the faculty are experts in their respective fields, some even literally writing the book on the subject. The thought of learning from them and benefiting from their experience was really what made my decision for me.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde/highlight of the course so far?
Being a part of the Strathclyde Law Review. Through this I've gained insight into parts of law that I hadn't considered too much about before and met people who are so smart and friendly and willing to share their experiences, wisdom and help. It has also helped me to develop skills that I've been able to transfer over into my studies and life and has helped me to become more confident in my own writing because of these skills. The people I've met through the course as well as been a definitive highlight as well. Many students from Glasgow and Scotland study law here but also many from overseas. Meeting people from different countries has allowed me to gain a more rounded view of the world and also seeing how they experience our country has been a refreshing experience, oftentimes learning to appreciate things I had previously taken for granted.

Have you come across any challenges during your studies, and how have you overcome them?
The work itself is challenging but I've found the materials provided and the guidance that is available from both the tutors and fellow students helps to overcome and work through the obstacles that stand in your way. The staff are, on the whole, excellent at giving help when required and are often more than willing to talk through the things that you don’t understand. 

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
Make sure it's the best course for you because it might not be and, make sure it’s the right place for you to come. Often people find it harder because they’re in a place that they don’t enjoy living in. But the most important thing is to consider if you enjoy the subject. There's no point in taking a course that you don't enjoy. If you don't enjoy it you won't engage with the classes and topics, and that just makes it so much harder.

What do you think of the support available?
Strathclyde, in terms of supervisors and tutors have some of the highest quality in their employ. Not just in terms of knowledge and experience but in terms of compassion and understanding. They're very approachable with any questions you may have about the course or things in general and I find this to be very beneficial to students attending this course.  The Strathclyde Cares programme is also a very good addition to the university's roster of services. A student who has been in care, no matter what kind, is assigned a member of staff as a mentor type person to help guide you through university life. Although I had already been at university for 4 years before joining Strathclyde, and was very much used to university life already, I found this to be very beneficial just as an extra person to talk to an communicate with if I was struggling. 

What are your ambitions for the future? 
My personal ambitions are that I wish to qualify as a solicitor and practice for a few years, maybe doing a masters part time on the side before taking the relevant classes and qualifications needed to become an advocate. I'm currently applying for my Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Practice and legal traineeships in order to continue down this path. My preference would be to practice criminal or family law, however, I am also interested in pursuing human rights and discrimination law.